FAST FIVE: US, Russian Defense Chiefs Hold Hour-Long Call In First Since Ukraine War Began

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US, Russian Defense Chiefs Hold Hour-Long Call In First Since Ukraine War Began On Friday Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu for the first time since the invasion of Ukraine which began on Feb.24.

A month ago the Pentagon confirmed it sill had a military-to-military hotline with the Russian side, but that there was no contact at senior levels.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby voiced concern in late March: “But at the senior levels, where we think it's really important particularly right now, that's not happening.

And it's not happening because the Russians don't seem to be interested.”  The Friday call was reportedly initiated by Austin and described as “professional” – lasting for about an hour, with a defense official saying the Pentagon hopes it “will serve as a springboard for future conversations.” A statement said that Austin “continues to have concerns about what's going on in Ukraine,” but that the phone conversation “didn't specifically solve any acute issues or lead to a direct change in what the Russians are doing and what they're saying.” The DoD readout of the call indicated that {“Secretary Austin urged an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication.” It's likely that from Moscow's point of view there's little to talk about given Washington is ramping up its proxy war style involvement in support of the Ukrainians quite openly, and at an unprecedented pace – also as the $40 billion Ukraine aid bill continues to make its way to the president's desk.

US officials have been openly bragging to the press about intelligence sharing with Kiev, which they say resulted in sinking the Russian Black Sea fleet's flagship Moskva cruiser, and which has allowed Ukrainian forces to take out top Russian officers, including generals.

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